The newly-formed Women@PACE group is organising a special consignment of flak jackets for women in the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, as a gesture of solidarity with female colleagues who continue to carry out their democratic duties while under potential military attack.
Members of the Parliamentary Assembly are being invited to contribute to a fund to supply the specially-designed flak jackets – which are adapted to the female body shape – to the Verkhovna Rada’s 89 women MPs and female secretariat members.
“While war is ravaging Ukraine, the parliament continues to meet physically in Kyiv,” said Laima Andrikiene (Lithuania, EPP/CD), the main organiser of the initiative. “Given that the buildings of state institutions could be attacked at any time, the lives of MPs as public figures and the staff on duty are in constant danger.”
The flak jackets, which have been designed at short notice by a network of French producers, are equivalent to the protection used by journalists or medical staff in conflict zones.
“We want to express solidarity with our courageous female colleagues, who are risking their lives to ensure that democracy continues to operate in Ukraine,” said Ms Andrikiene. “We want to show our support with more than just words. It’s a small gesture for us, but could make a big difference to these brave women, who are defending democracy not just in Ukraine, but across Europe.”
Women@PACE, which held its first meeting last month, is an informal group bringing together around 240 women in the Assembly.